When Barcelona was first linked with Sergio Aguero for the club’s presidential election in early March, the comments could be heard under one story with comments ranging from ‘they got rid of Suarez because he was done, but then they bring Kun! to another who highlighted Barcelona’s financial situation, saying ‘unless we plan to pay him in Smarties, I don’t see how it will work out’.
On Monday, Agüero confirmed what everyone already knew: that he would not stay with Manchester City after the end of this season. The announcement came during a slow news day in Spain in the midst of an international break, but it failed to make it to the forefront of the country’s four major sports newspapers. Eric Garcia, David Alaba, Mo Salah (interview) and Philippe Coutinho (how are we going to sell him?) Were all featured.
There were pieces within Sport, AS and Marca across the curtain to Aguero’s extraordinary Premier League career, and Manchester City’s all-time top scorer could still return to the league he left 10 years ago this summer, especially if his clear desire to finish his career alongside Lionel Messi translates into a wage sacrifice.
Sergio Agüero’s impending departure from Manchester City was not front-page news in Spain
Agüero will leave City as the club’s top scorer – with a whopping 257 goals
But Ronald Koeman’s preference for a different type of forward, and the fact that Aguero was only involved in 14 games this season, means that this will not be an inevitable return, and when he comes, there will be reservations among Barcelona supporters.
Agüero was presented to all three presidential candidates in the Catalan club’s recent elections. Those representing the 32-year-old forward informed at the time that a deal had been struck with Joan Laporta, who won the race. They remain convinced of that, but that’s not the version you get from the club, which still has several balls in the air, wondering which ones to fall and which ones to catch when the season is over.
Laporta wants to start his second term as president with a massive signing of a statement, much like Florentino Perez did at Real Madrid when he returned in 2009 and brought in Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Karim Benzema in the same summer.
Laporta would like that statement to be Erling Haaland. He still has a good relationship with Haaland’s agent, Mino Raiola, because of the deal struck for Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2009.
Whether Laporta can fund what he sees as an investment rather than an indulgence remains to be seen. Much will depend on how effective the plans are to raise the capital needed to get the club past short-term credit troubles in the closing season. Even then, Manchester may be more attractive to Haaland.
Barça signing Aguero would leave fans baffled as they got rid of aging Luis Suarez
It is more difficult to sell Aguero as an investment. “Gambling” feels like the most appropriate word. There would be no transfer fee but an application fee and wages should be found and the idea that there is no point in getting rid of Suarez just to bring in Agüero is hard to argue, at least on the European stage where Barcelona has had a hard time.
One of the problems with Suarez and Messi on the same team in those big games was that neither of them could squeeze with much intensity at this stage of their careers. There was a feeling that when Barcelona didn’t have the ball, they played with nine.
Agüero had to be persuaded to become a striker under Pep Guardiola – could he do that until next season after his 33rd birthday in June?
Therefore, Koeman would prefer the attackers accompanying Messi in the attack to provide speed and aggressive energy. He would much rather have the club sign Memphis Depay if Haaland proves above them.
Messi would prefer Aguero. The pair almost played together in Barcelona in 2014, but Barca’s then sports director Andoni Zubizarreta’s attempt to win Aguero out of City failed and so he moved on to Plan B, Suarez.
There is an argument that despite all that Aguero and Messi are friends, they have not won anything on the same team for Argentina since the 2008 Olympics. But while it’s hard to see the pair put Barcelona back on top in Europe, they would score the goals against inferior defenses in La Liga.
Joan Laporta wants his statement to be Borussia Dortmund’s summer signing Erling Haaland
Despite his wishes, Laporta faces a tough summer given Barca’s financial mess
Sportsmail spoke with former Barcelona forward Steve Archibald last week and was confident the signing would work.
“I’d take Aguero in an instant,” he said. ‘He is a top finisher, his movement is fantastic. I would say he is one step ahead of even Suarez in terms of the very last move he makes in the area to get the final pass. I think it would work great, as long as he’s fit of course. ‘
Aguero is on the list of possible recruits, one that runs from the far-from-signed Eric Garcia, through the Dutch free transfers of Georginio Wijnaldum and Depay, to the extravagantly ambitious Haaland.
Those arguing for Aguero at Barcelona say he could come as a reserve striker – an upgrade from Martin Braithwaite.
It’s hard to argue that the man who broke all records in City and wrote his name in the club’s history books wouldn’t be a sensational team man. Time will tell if, with his recent injury record and Koeman’s doubts, he will be a luxury the club can afford.
Lionel Messi would like to see his Argentinian countryman move to Camp Nou this summer